Why On Earth Are There Figure Skaters?

Male Figure SkaterIcd… Ice is cold, wet, slippery and concrete to fall upon. Skates are narrow, providing the maximum opportunity to fall over to either side. Figure skates, designed for masochists by a sadist, follow the circumference of a wheel, adding opportunity to fall forward and backward. And somewhere along the line, a hate-filled master sadist affixed two rows of teeth to the fron end, with the largest fang hanging just off the ice. Should a skater tip slightly forward, that tooth enthusiastically grabs the ice, stopping the skate cold, while the skater continues on until his nose tries to embed itself into the ice. And to gain real control of a figure skate requires endless hours of cold, sweat and bruises. Obviously, figure skaters have to be morons.

But they aren’t; testing has shown the average competitive figure skater to be above average intelligence. This does not compute! Something is obviously missing from this picture…

No, so far at least, nobody has discovered a gene for figure skating so it isn’t compelled by one’s DNA; we have to look elsewhere. Personally, I have no idea why others skate.Fall But I can describe for you what figure skating feels like to a skater.

Sonja Henie, Olympic chanp, performer, producer and actress, titled her book on figure skating: “Wings On My Feet.” For those standing off the ice or clinging to the rails at the rink, wondering why we do it, that was a clue.

Once you control that pernicious skate, you can at will, come as close to flight as any human is likely to short of anti-gravity. You feel like you are flying, the wind of speed is in your face and the jarring impacts of running are gone; all is smooth and silent. You swoop and glide and turn with ease while the scenery blurs past… and some of us are as hooked on that high as others are on the drug du jour. And then, there are those jumps. Flying at top speed, you fling yourself into the air, absolutely flying for up to a whole second that seems forever while it lasts. Then you float gently to the ice and glide away, exhilarated. Well, when all goes well…  But as the barker said: “And that ain’t all!”

There is music. Music carries you along, sustains flight, picks you up and moves you like a leaf in an Autumn breeze; you don’t even notice that what you are doing is muscle powered. Well, you notice it afterward, depending upon the shape you’re in at the moment.

And that’s of course, a small portion of the time; most of it is physical labor and bruises. But then, people look at you differently when they hear that you are a figure skater; they even pay to watch you sometimes. Well, you and the currently hot champions, naturally, But you’re part of it, part of something that most people can only watch. It even impresses school counselors and such.

When you’re at the rink, a skater among skaters, you stand or fall by what you can do on the ice, few know or wish to know much more of you than that. Everybody knows how hard it is to skate; respect accompanies attainment.

Though the sport originated for men only, today it’s mostly girls. For a male, that may condemn you to smaller events in competition and thereby, more medals than girls have a shot at (Aw, shucks!), but the other advantages are outstanding, even unique. See, it is written on the ice that in figure skating, many are called, as Scripture puts it, but few are chosen. And numbers of the really good girl skaters who aren’t quite champions decide to continue in pair skating or ice dancing competition.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 2013 World Ice Dance Champions

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 2013 World Ice Dance Champions

For that, those girls need a partner. That partner must first, possess an “Y” chromosome, he must be male. To date, anyway. So we see a lot of girls turning to examine a rather small group of males. It is rather like being the rooster in a hen house, I think. Any male figure skater with self-esteem issues is probably a hopeless case, at least in the rink…and that’s where he spends most of his time, right? So we tend to be spoiled but generally the ice corrects that pretty fast. Once you have a partner, you have to skate with her. From experience, I can tell you that partners expect you to skate up to their standards. As those tend to be high, a male figure skater with a new partner often rapidly corrects any previous spoilage or the ice does it for him. After all, a male dealing with a girl who can outskate him, is very reluctant to remain in that position

Partnering among figure skaters is a whole book’s worth of experience, relationships, horror stories and even some romances. I will not attempt to describe it here, that book would be a trilogy. I will leave it that I ended married to my last competition partner, which demonstrates one of the unforeseen dangers of the sport of figure skating. It is exhilarating in so many ways…

However, it’s still not entirely clear to me why anybody becomes a figure skater… I guess that some of us just can’t fight it off! If I I had it to do over again, would I still pursue the sport? Absolutely…perhaps, after the first few hours in the rink, my brain froze?…

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
This entry was posted in Art, Figure Skating, Sport and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why On Earth Are There Figure Skaters?

  1. Yes, the feeling of flying is one of the best feelings in the world! 🙂

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